The last thing you want to do is create chaos in your home when you arrive with your new puppy. Keep in mind that he will be overwhelmed by his new environment, and the other pets in the home might also feel uncomfortable with a new puppy in their ‘territory’. Therefore, proper introductions are crucial. To stop a major war with possible casualties occurring in your home, make sure to follow a few guidelines to make life easier for everyone.
When to start
Ultimately, any changes in the household should start a few weeks before puppy arrives, where applicable. For instance, if the current resident dog’s routine, as to where he will eat or sleep, will change, it should be started before the new puppy arrives. Also ensure that each dog has his own items – his own bed, bowl and toys. The same goes for the resident cat, and especially her litterbox, which needs to be in a quiet, private space.
When introducing the new puppy to the resident dog, keep the following in mind:
- If the resident dog is well socialised, the introduction shouldn’t be such a big problem. But, when in doubt, let the dogs meet in a neutral place, such as at a park or on someone else’s property. Keep the big dog on a lead for the greeting part and carefully monitor the introduction. It is a good idea to have another adult close by to assist, if necessary.
- Introduce each dog one at a time, and give each dog enough time to meet and greet properly.
- Place the puppy on the ground and remain calm. Allow the older dog to approach the puppy. He will most probably sniff the puppy from every angle.
- If the other dog stays calm, reward him with treats. He might get excited, but if it gets out of hand, ask him to sit.
- Allow the puppy to interact with the other dog. If the other dog shows any signs of aggression, cut the meeting short.
- Like humans, not all dogs are outgoing and sociable, and puppy might be too scared to interact with the other dog. Let the other dog lie down to give the puppy a chance to approach him. Do not, however, restrain either of them, or force them to interact.
- Although we think the new puppy is very cute, the other dog may not. Allow him to get used to the idea of a new puppy.
- To ensure that the two dogs don’t interfere with each other’s space, invest in baby gates or a playpen. You don’t want the older dog to bully the puppy, and you also don’t want the puppy pestering an older dog who might want to rest.
- Once the introductions are over, and everyone seems to be at peace with each other, give them time to get used to the idea, and give puppy time to settle in.
Cats are private creatures and don’t necessarily want to share their space with dogs. A good idea is to place her food bowl on a higher surface, and to create a ‘cat-only’ space where she won’t be bothered by the new puppy.
- For the first few days, keep the new puppy in a different room. A good idea is to switch the blankets between the cat and the puppy, so that they can get used to each other’s smells.
- If you have an adventurous cat who don’t mind change, place her meals close to the puppy’s room. This will also help them to get used to the new smells.
- Place a barrier, like a baby gate, between the rooms, so that they can see each other, but with a barrier in place.
- Don’t expect the actual introduction to go smoothly. Some cats and dogs do get off to a good start, but others only learn to tolerate each other.
- There should be enough places for Felix to run to and hide where puppy can’t find her.
- Never place the puppy in the cat’s face to introduce them – that is asking for trouble.
- The best time to introduce the two is to wait until the puppy is tired and ready to go to sleep. Place the cat behind the baby gate and puppy on the floor, and watch their reactions. If all seems well, remove the gate.
- Puppy will most probably head for the cat. Give them time to explore each other, and go with the flow. The cat might make a run for it. If the dog becomes too jumpy, distract him with a toy.
- Don’t overreact if the cat hisses or swats at him – she is only teaching him how to behave around her. If the meeting gets out of hand, cut it short.
- If the puppy stays calm around the cat, reward him with a treat.
- Don’t allow your puppy to chase or harass the cat.
- Observe your cat over the next few weeks. Make sure that she gets her share of attention, and if there is a change in her demeanour or eating habits, take her to the vet for a check-up, or ask a cat behaviourist for help.
The bottom line is that you cannot expect the pets to become instant friends. They need to learn to except each other and how to tolerate each other.